Ann Zinn Buffum and Sandra Stillman Gartner, project directors, interviewed Hinda Miller on December 5 2006 in Burlington, Vermont as part of DAVAR's oral history project.
Hinda Miller was born in Montreal, Canada 1950. Her grandfather had come to Canada in 1919 to close a failing Montreal furniture business owned by his uncle. Growing up in Montreal was a great experience for Hinda. The family was part of a large Jewish community and belonged to a Conservative Synagogue called Shaar Hashomayim. In the early 1960âs few young women were Bat Mitzvahed or confirmed but she did attend Hebrew school.
In a nod to her motherâs upbringing, Hinda was educated at an Anglican girls' school. She recalls singing hymns in the morning and Jewish chants in the afternoon, until, in her teens, some subtle anti-semitic remarks at a school dance led her to ask to attend public school.
After graduating from Westmount High School at age 17, she went to Parsons School of Design in New York City and settled permanently in the United States. She spent a year doing window displays for a store on West 57th and then enrolled at New York University as a theater major in costume design.
In the late 1970's she moved to Burlington, Vermont to design costumes for the Champlain Shakespeare Festival. It was at this time that Hinda and her friend invented the first sports bra for women: The Jogbra. Both the Smithsonian Institute and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have original Jogbras in their collections. The Washington Post said, "Title IX and the Sports Bra were the two most important innovations to help the increase of women's participation in sports and fitness."
Over a two year period during the 1990s Hinda had an opportunity to have reunions with members of her family. She traveled to the small shtetl of Plungyan, Lithuania, to participate in a memorial service for her family and the other Jews killed there during the Holocaust. They also traveled to Ireland and England where her grandmother's family had lived before immigrating to Canada.
The defeat of Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election convinced Hinda to become an American citizen in order to vote and participate fully in politics. At the suggestion of a friend, Hinda decided to run for state senator. She was first elected in 2002 and had a particular interest in economic development.
Hinda, seeking a spiritual life has been practicing yoga since her early 20s. She is currently on a path to integrate her two sources of spirituality: Judaism and yoga. She currently lives in Burlington with her husband, Joel Miller, a therapist, and they have two children, Noah and Macey.
Hinda Miller's photo credit: Karen Pike, www.kpikephoto.com
This project was made possible in part by major grants from the Aviva Spring Foundation, Vermont Humanities Council, Damon and Marilee Buffum, Vermont Community Fund and many other individuals and organizations who have supported DAVAR through their donations.